It was often baffling to me when any of my friends and family members living in US used to say, they are too busy to read any material that I used to share it to them, say it spiritual or simple materialistic fun stuff. They were always saying (mostly in the non complaining mode) that their lives are revolved around getting things done around work and/or family. During this extended trip to US, I had an opportunity to see lives of some of my friends in US little up close and personal in both formal & informal settings. Though I had lived in US for 15 years before moving to Hyderabad about a decade ago, this experience was a like a reboot to me.
It was little frightening to see both the pace and monotonicity of life here. Situation was little more frightening where both spouses are working full time. I also know of the cases where one of the spouses is fortunate to work from home. Situation is not too friendly in their case too. The chase for getting things done starts as early as 5:30AM and does not end until very late evening. Things seem to be much complicated with families with infants. There is also bit of anxiety, panic, and subtle stress between the spouses. This is often result of ownership of getting each trivial stuff done lies between the two spouses with limited help from outside (unless additional $$$ is spent)
If you look at the situation other side of the Atlantic Ocean, situation is little different. Anxiety levels are lot lower due to support systems via so many avenues, such as outsourced help (maids, drivers, adhoc folks to run for our errands, parents, in-laws, boys in the office, etc). There is so much of the stuff (laundry, house cleaning, chauffeuring kinds, grocery shopping, ironing, etc) gets done by these folks. At the end of the days, even some of the work does not get done; it does not feel like “end of the world”. I was taking all these things quite granted, and now I am grateful than ever.
Where is everyone?
Whenever I visit US, I often awed by the number of folks that you see (or should I say we do not see) on the streets. It is little more obvious in places like Texas, where there is so much land available. Look at the attached photos that I have taken around well-known neighborhood of Dallas suburbs known as Valley Ranch. I drove around this place more than 30 times in last 3 weeks. I rarely saw a person on the street. Whenever I drive on these streets, I feel like Will Smith from in the Movie, “I am Legend” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0480249/) driving in NY City, which is deserted due to some time type of plague
I asked my friends here, why there is no one out there. Not that I needed a reason. He said, 9 out of 12 months, the place is too hot or too cold. Given that kids are dropped off the school or day care beginning 7AM, and picked up after the work, there is little time left for anyone to play outside too (after attending taekwondo, music classes, karate, kumon, etc) and playing indoor games on TV. With regards to kids not playing much outside, situation is same in India too. However you see lot of activity in the streets, and streets appear rarely deserted (due to sheer volume of population and work force involved to maintain our houses). At least we hear vehicles honking indicating we are not alone 🙂